Lachlan Murdoch will serve as chairman and chief executive of the proposed new “Fox” company – a position senior to father Rupert Murdoch – once the deal to sell Fox assets to Walt Disney is approved by shareholders and regulators, the company said today.
Rupert Murdoch will serve as co-chairman of the new Fox entity, which will maintain ownership of Fox’s existing news, sports and business channels.
“We have worked through the winter ‘standing up’ a reimagined independent Fox,” Lachlan Murdoch, 46, said in a statement.
Rupert Murdoch, 87, added: “The new Fox will begin as the only media company solely focused on the domestic market; focused on what Americans love best – sports, news and entertainment, built and delivered for a US audience.”
The shift marks an actual and symbolic shift in the Murdoch empire, that has long been roiled by questions of succession. The new Fox company will be without 21st Century Fox’s film and television studios, entertainment cable channels, a stake in streaming service Hulu and regional sports networks.
The formal annointment of Lachlan Murdoch comes as younger brother James Murdoch, 45, is reported to be looking at starting a venture capital fund to invest in digital and international media businesses once the $52.4bn Fox-Disney deal is completed.
The younger son, who currently serves as chairman of Fox as well as the UK’s Sky, had been expected to take up a senior position at Disney. But reigning Disney CEO Bob Iger has conspicuously failed to offer specifics of any potential role.
However, James Murdoch will not walk away empty-handed. His share of the Fox-Disney mega-deal will be worth roughly $1bn.
John Nallen, who previously served as chief operating officer of 21st Century Fox, will now serve in the same role at the new company.
“The opportunity to reshape a business strategy and an operational approach uniquely tailored to the new Fox is truly compelling,” he said.
But the creation of the new company could be more than a year away as US regulators must first work their way through AT&T’s $85bn bid for Time Warner. In a further complication that would test Rupert Murdoch’s power over Fox shareholders, cable giant Comcast could make its own play for Fox assets.